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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, February 20, 2015

Collections Lawyer From Emmaus Tapped as NorCo's New Solicitor

Along party lines, Northampton County Council has confirmed Emmaus attorney Ryan Durkin as the County's new Solicitor. He was nominated by Executive John Brown to replace Bethlehem attorney Vic Scomillio, who resigned so he could focus on his race for judge.  All five Republican's supported Durkin's appointment at their February 19 meeting, while all four Democrats were opposed.

Hayden Phillips, who stated he is proud to be referred to as a "conservative tea party member," is ironically often the swing vote for Democrats. But during Durkin's confirmation hearing the day before, he supported Durkin.
"Ryan's a lawyer. He has solid work experience. Did a Google search. No felonies. No misdemeanors. No moral lapses. And the Executive feels like he could work with Ryan. That's good enough for me."
But Durkin, though an experienced collections lawyer, has no real experience in dealing with county law, which troubled Council member Bob Werner. Several former Solicitors, including Jack Panella and Bill Moran, went on to become distinguished judges, But Durkin is a nonresident who does not even belong to the Northampton County Bar Association. This bothered Council members Ken Kraft and Scott Parsons.

Durkin defended his status as a collections lawyer. "To the extent debt collector has been thrown around, I don't think that's a bad word. They provide a service that's necessary to keep the County running."

Speaking on behalf of Durkin was Attorney Bob Daday, who is employed by Portnoff law firm. That firm has come under attack for the fees it charges to property owners when it files liens on behalf of municipalities. That law firm is responsible for numerous of the Sheriff's Sales conducted in Northampton County. Yet Durkin referred to this privatized tax collector as "humane in the way that they collect."

Lamont McClure provided Durkin with a copy of the Home Rule Charter and asked him whether he'd agree that County Council has no power to borrow money to balance a budget or pay operating expenses. Durkin. He stated he'd have to study the matter."This is the first time I'm seeing this," he explained. The day before, he told Council he had read the Home Rule Charter.

McClure also had a few questions about the Administrative Code, to which Durkin declined to answer, explaining he would not want to respond "off the cuff, standing here at the dais."

"That's fair enough,"countered McClure. "I don't think anyone argues that you have any particular experience with our Home Rule Charter or Administrative Code, and I think that's being demonstrated."

When McClure had finished, Phillips complimented Durkin on avoiding the "bear traps" set by McClure. He added that he felt he needed to give great deference to the Executive's choice. "It's on his shoulders. He's picking the man he wants to work with."

"Exactly," concurred Peg Ferraro, who has only voted once against an Executive's cabinet pick.

Durkin stated he planned on making no changes inside the Solicitor's office.

John Brown told Council he had spoken to a dozen Northampton County lawyers. He feels that Durkin fits best with his team approach. Acknowledging that Durkin lives outside the County he told Council he did make a concession. "He is in the state of Pennsylvania," he joked.  

20 comments:

Lighthouse said...

Perhaps taken out of context, and not representing what he really meant (??), but "No felonies. No misdemeanors. No moral lapses. And the Executive feels like he could work with Ryan" is a pretty low bar to set. Disappointed, Mr. Phillips. Comes across like "making up" after an argument...just words coming out of your mouth.

Yes, great deference should be given to the Executive...however, as you describe it, this almost rings like "give a man enough rope, and ..."

From personal experience, solicitors need to subtly give it to you as it is (and bluntly if you don't pick up on that!). "Lamont McClure provided Durkin with a copy of the Home Rule Charter and asked him whether he'd agree that County Council has no power to borrow money to balance a budget or pay operating expenses. Durkin. He stated he'd have to study the matter."This is the first time I'm seeing this," he explained."

Hmmm, despite the after-the-fact fund balance, considering that Brown submitted an initial budget with a $20 million dollar line of credit under Scomillio's solicitor oversight--or lack thereof--which was fairly reported in NorCo press, the fact that he can't answer it says that Brown got the yes man he was apparently was looking for--and had to go outside the County to find.

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Bernie O'Hare said...

Henry Schaadt, post your homosexual desires somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats looked petty and partisan on this vote. There is a need for more bipartisanism. The current Democratic office holders are party hacks.

It is sad that they represent the best of the Democratic Party in the County. One has to hope there are Democrats with more to offer than these guys.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused to how someone can get hired and have no experience and not even read the HRC! Way to be prepared Durkin! Good for the Councilmembers who voted for him not to pass go and collect 200 dollars.

David Houser said...

No local lawyer with any kind of reputation to uphold would have anything to do with Brown and the lack of a county candidate speaks volumes. He's lucky he found this guy to do the work. I'll give the guy a year at best before he caves and runs away just like Victor did. Brown is a career ruiner. Buyers and lawyers..beware!

Anonymous said...

by the way bo - no news of employees dying. Little disappointed aren't you

Anonymous said...

Often when Mr. Phillips speaks, and tells you his rationale for something or what he is thinking, you wish he just sat there and hadn't said a word. This is one of those times.

If a voter in West Easton Googles TM's name this voting season, they will find a criminal charge and a plethora of court decisions that call her character and moral fiber into question, and make it clear she isn't fit for public office. If they then try to go to her blog to see an open discussion of the truth she has tried to expose by spending tons of WE taxpayer $$$, they will find a brick wall.

So Google can be your friend when researching candidates. For nursing candidates too - you don't want a whacko charged with the care of a defenseless patient.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats looked petty and partisan on this vote. There is a need for more bipartisanism. The current Democratic office holders are party hacks.

Your argument fails because the exact same can be said for the Republicans, and that they are covering Brown's backside by supporting candidates who aren't qualified. Just having a law degree doesn't make you qualified. This guy comes across as unpolished and without relevant experience.

Peter J.Cochran said...

'UNPOLISHED' Wow,snap judgement. Give the man a chance.Somebody is not going to like somebodyelse no matter what! If he collects 5% the funds due from your regular deadbeats ,bail money, and court fines, he paid for himself and then some.This would be more than some others have done. Running up blindsiding a man about a rule of law does not mean a thing.In fact, I would say that his answer was appropriate under those circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Hayden is not a tea partier. Tea partiers don't raise taxes unnecessarily. Hayden is just a garden variety, typical tax-and-spend, go-along-to-get-along politician serving his final term on council. Hayden, we hardly knew ye.

Anonymous said...

At least the guy is a lawyer. This is a county where Barron inexplicably serves as controller. What exactly are Barron's qualifications for his position? He has no accounting or financial background and can't properly communicate in the Queen's English. He's stomped flowers and threatened employers and cheated taxpayers while lying about being full-time. Let's face it, except for the riotously funny lisp, he's qualified to be a gang member or two-bit crook and that really it.

Black3car said...

Do we really need more "On The Job" Training?

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The Democrats looked petty and partisan on this vote. There is a need for more bipartisanism. "

I agree. The Rs need to stop drinking John Brown's Kool-Aid. A collections lawyer as solicitor who does not live here and has no understanding of county law? One who brings another debt collector to speak on his behalf? How could you possibly be any more stupid? This guy is going to end up costing us money. He was arrogant top Council, too, which should make for some interesting meetings.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"'UNPOLISHED' Wow,snap judgement.

Peter, he'snot here to collect fines and costs. He's the County's Solicitor. We are in trouble.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Blog Mentor, as someone who delights in the pain of others, you are no doubt disappointed nobody died.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, I already know the Solicitor is NOT hired to collect bills. However I think that this position should not be reactive ,but proactive. Now, I bow down ,I'm not as smart as you ,so help me understand why some one on the payroll who might want to be indispensable would not propagate and support Collections as Solicitor. Let me say this . If a municipal government pay's a lawyer a fee all year long ,then he or she should represent that entity with propriety thought process. I would think that a Solicitor would personally brief the police departments they overcast on any changes to constitutional law ,like opening windows at DUI Stops. The Solicitor should look out for their venue. Tell me I'm wrong,Bernie.

Anonymous said...

When you have no clue on what you're doing, surround yourself with those who know even less. It makes you the smart one in the room.

Anonymous said...

Did you hear the one about the guy who killed his parents and then begged the judge for mercy because he was an orphan?

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